An advance in the science of well-written pop songs that run deeper on the musical and lyrical fronts than you might first suspect.
This Canadian outfit has been releasing stellar records for several years now and Lovish is certainly no exception, although it almost didn’t happen, or least happen the way you hear it now. Two years ago vocalist Carl Johnson was assaulted in his hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan. Injuries in the attack were so severe that it impacted Johnson’s sense of smell and left him with a prolonged period of recovery. The music hasn’t suffered for this and in fact improves upon the group’s previous LP, 2011’s Summer of Lust.
If this record is a little darker than its predecessor, a little draped in more deft production that enhances the hazy atmosphere, it’s a welcome change that suggests greater nuance from a band that has yet to fully capitalize on its commercial potential. The record opens with “Oh Donna”, wherein we’re told that all our heroes are “assholes” but despite that we should not “piss on our dreams”. Yep, it’s that kind of record: appropriately angry and raw and yet not so overwhelmed with its own anger that it can’t get round the bend. That tune’s successor, “Sunburnt in L.A.” tells us that our narrator “used to spit on love” but that he was “young and dumb”, over a dance-worthy beat and a hook during which he tells the lover in question that his only desire is to provide aid and comfort in times of need. It’s a gorgeous lyric, rest atop a remarkable and layered series of tracks that provide the listener with serious rewards upon multiple listens.
There’s an intelligence to those tracks and to the dirty, grunge-on-Weezer vibe of “Slacker”, the summery singalong of “Hey! Adrienne” (maybe the perfect pop song of 2015) and the retro-feeling "Escape Artist”. This last has a much darker vibe than one might first suspect, detailing the life and times of someone who’s steadily going off the rails and maybe into a deeper, darker abyss than he first imagines. It’s both chilling and alluring, the way that the big dumb rock strut of “Fangs of Love” and the self-explanatory “Death By Small Talk” are. Each of these songs pull us in with smart hooks and insistent beats and then keep us captive as they tell us stories of the repellent, the seething, the undercurrent that lurks in the alleys behind our own homes and maybe even in the darker passageways of our own hearts.
Not everything works as well as the record’s earliest moments. The final chapters, “Bored In Berlin” and “Every Night” don’t hold or capture interest the same way that ace material such as “The Wild Roar of Love” or the aforementioned opener “Oh Donna” do. But even then you have little choice but to be convinced that this is a band smarter than most and talented in ways that are still developing and will no doubt one day blossom into something even greater.
Studies are still being conducted as to whether the members of Library Voices are the smartest people in all of Regina but until those results come in we can rest assured that they are among the most talented.